Inside a cozy little studio on the University of Montana campus over the past year, Justin Angle has interviewed a former U.S. Treasury Secretary and a member of Pearl Jam. He's also chatted with a former Tour de France cyclist who admitted to cheating, a nationally syndicated journalist and a plethora of other heavy hitters and creative types in a broad range of industries.
Those conversations can be heard by anyone for free, as they’re all available online in a format called the “A New Angle” podcast created by the UM College of Business.
“When someone clicks on an episode of ‘A New Angle,’ they’ll find an engaging conversation with a cool person doing something awesome,” said Angle, the podcast’s creator and host. “We’ll have deep conversations with people who think differently and break paradigms with the way they approach their work, no matter what industry they’re in.”
He's scored conversations with Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, former Nirvana and Cheap Trick sound engineer Steve Albini, and Tyler Hamilton, a Tour de France cyclist who was caught up in the blood-doping scandal that took down Lance Armstrong. There are 54 published episodes and a new one is released each week.
Angle is an associate professor of marketing at UM, and he came up with the idea for the podcast in his classroom.
“I was building an online version of the marketing course, and I had been assigning more and more podcasts in class,” he explained. “Videos are fun, but they tether you to a screen and I thought a podcast would be more flexible while working out or doing chores.”
Angle said he goes into every interview with three or four broad topics and intends to investigate or tie the conversation into themes of “creativity and hustle”.
“There are not a lot of conventional jobs in Missoula, and to piece together a good living in this town you have to have both creativity and hustle,” Angle explained. “Those are two big themes of the show.”
He said he chooses guests who are doing cool and interesting things.
“Some are people in the community that I sort of identify, and then there are University of Montana-related guests, whether faculty or staff or alums, and then there are interesting people coming through campus like Larry Summers or Maureen Dowd,” he said. “The university has interesting people coming through all the time."
They are often happy to spend an hour on a freewheeling conversation.
"The fact that Missoula’s a small town means I can get their time," Angle explained. "If Larry Summers was speaking at the University of Washington, he probably would have other things to do.”
He believes the podcast is a way to tell the stories of interesting and innovating things happening at UM.
“We’re not necessarily cheerleading, but celebrating some of the good stuff happening not just here but in the broader community,” he said. “The university hasn’t done and awesome job about telling stories about itself.”
The studio is located in the Loren and Michele Hansen Media Lab, which was created by a gift from the couple. Blackfoot Communications and First Security Bank are sponsors of the show, helping with equipment. Angle gets coffee donated from local musician John Wicks, owner of Drum Coffee, and he uses “creativity and hustle” to track down guests.
For example, he had a friend who worked out with Ament and called in a favor to get the rocker to swing by.
“I was really blown away by how down to earth he is,” Angle recalled. “He’s so generous in the community."
Angle asked him the difference in creating a song for Pearl Jam versus solo recording.
“His eyes just lit up at that question,” Angle recalled. “He said, ‘I don’t know exactly how it happens,’ but you could tell it’s really important for him to get the approval of the band. It was an interesting discussion about the creative culture within the band.”
In fact, Wicks and Ament recorded a single that the podcast uses for its intro music.
JR Thomas, an employee at Runner’s Edge in Missoula, is an avid listener.
“I’ve been a big fan of podcasts for a while, and when I heard about the podcast and interviews of people in Missoula, I hopped on it right away,” Thomas explained. “The first episode I listened to was with (local endurance athlete) Mike Foote.
"I didn’t really know him, I just knew him as a runner. I was surprised at how great Justin was at interviewing. He did a great job with open-ended questions, and had really great summaries during the interview. I was impressed with that. So now I listen every Monday or Tuesday.”
Thomas said it would be hard to pick a favorite episode.
“I really like the episode with John Wicks at Drum Coffee,” he said. “It was fascinating to hear his story. Mike Foote was motivating. And Megan Whicher with Missoula Parks and Recreation, it was just awesome to hear what she’s doing in the community, getting kids on bikes. That was probably my favorite one.”
Elizabeth Willy, the director of marketing and communications at UM’s College of Business, said the show has nearly 40,000 listens, "and has become an important outlet for prominent voices in the UM and western Montana communities since it launched.”
Sara Rinfret, the director of the Master’s of Public Administration program at UM, teaches class with Angle and is a huge fan of the podcast.
“I really enjoyed the episode with Erin Switalski of Women’s Voices for the Earth,” Rinfret explained. “Her work on raising awareness with basically (dangerous chemicals) in tampons and pads is fascinating. People who do environmental policy, it’s really interesting that we often forget feminine products. And Christopher Preston, a philosopher at UM, had some interesting perspectives. I think it’s really nice that Justin is spotlighting what Montanans are doing. It’s something that’s been really missing.”
Rinfret said the podcast is broadcasting all the brainpower that’s at work in the state. Her mom in Ohio has even become an avid listener.
Last week, Mike Foote turned the table on Angle for the one-year anniversary of the show and interviewed him. The episode is available online. Angle said he’s excited about the second year of the show and the fascinating guests he’ll be chatting with.
“Podcasts are invigorating because interesting ideas can play out in real time,” he said. “Academic research can be painfully slow, not to mention inaccessible, and business education needs stronger connections to practice. This podcast allows us to address both of these problems and have a ton of fun doing it.”
To subscribe, search for A New Angle podcast on Spotify or Stitcher or Apple Podcasts or visit anewanglepodcast.com.